The open plan office has become the dominant design in office space planning, replacing the cubicle styled offices of old due to the supposed collaborative and productivity benefits. In recent years the open plan office design has come under scrutiny, leading to concerns that open plan offices may not deliver the best results for businesses. Before investing in a new office redesign, lets take a look at some of the most important points to consider when deciding which type of offices is correct for your business.
Closed plan offices can hinder the ability for employees to share ideas and hold ad-hoc meetings as partitions and screens create barriers to communication. Opting for an open plan office design is ideal for companies wishing to instil a collaborative culture as an open plan office breaks down the barriers to communication, allowing colleagues to quickly run ideas by each other and form cross functional teams.
Although open plan offices allow for easier collaboration, there may be privacy concerns arising from potential prying eyes, especially for the finance and HR departments who may be handling confidential and sensitive employee data. One solution is to have a closed plan layout for departments who regularly handle sensitive data, locating a variety of meeting spaces elsewhere in the office to allow for collaboration across departments.
Closed office designs can make the supervision of employees and their behaviour quite a challenge, especially as managers can’t always see what an employee is doing on their computer or with their colleagues if their desk isn’t easily visible. One of the ways managers can deal with this is using IT monitoring software which allows for IT technicians to monitor web and email traffic for any none work related activities.
One of the biggest problems when choosing an open plan office design are the potential distractions, which can harm an employee’s productivity. This is issue is especially prevalent in offices where there may be a sales department which spends most of the day on the phone, as the departments sitting adjacent to the sales team may be unable to concentrate. Some employees may have a low tolerance to noise, therefore providing quiet working zones may be a viable solution which avoids any loss of productivity.
Not only can closed plan offices prevent the spread of germs, but they also afford a level of privacy which can boost an employee’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Unlike like open plan spaces where your every action can be seen, closed plan office workers do not feel the same pressure to appear constantly busy. Despite these drawbacks, employees in open plan spaces are often happier due to the ability to collaborate and communicate easily with colleagues, leading to a greater sense of belonging and fulfilment.
Closed plan offices are generally more costly due to the cost of installing partition walls and screens. The lack of furniture required in an open plan office consequently allows for more people in an office space per sq ft, meaning more efficiencies in space utilisation in terms of the number of employees which can be squeezed into a space.
The Best of Both Worlds?
There certainly isn’t a definitive answer when it comes to choosing an open or closed plan office design, however the best office designs incorporate elements from each style of office to create a ‘hybrid’ workspace. Offering quiet workspaces such as private working pods offers employees the ability to work in a distraction free environment, perfect for tasks which require a greater level of concentration. Breakout areas and hot desking solutions can provide the ideal place for collaboration away from the main office floor as to minimise distraction to colleagues.
If you’re unsure which type office is best for your company, it may be worth calling upon the expertise of the best office design companies. Officeinsightwill listen to your requirements and will tailor a space which delivers exactly what your company needs, incorporating the best elements from closed and open plan office design.
Author- Marcus Livesey, Marketing Executive at Officeinsight
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